April 23 – 26, Thursday through Sunday is the 56th Annual Arizona History Convention which will be held at the Casino del Sol Resort and Conference Center on the Yaqui Reservation near Tucson. Over 18 sessions with more than 50 presentations will be given on Arizona and Southwest history. Topics range from the development of the Salt River Valley, Medicine in the Southwest, mining, Shady Ladies, Arizona towns and communities and of course lawmen, badmen and Wyatt Earp. Both Marshall Trimble and Bob Boze Bell will be there signing copies of their new books. On Friday evening, the AHC will host a screening of the famed documentary Power’s War. Book vendors will be there, including Guidon Books. There is a nominal registration fee, but besides attending interesting sessions, you will have a chance to meet historians, scholars and people interested in history. For additional information check out www.arizonahistory.org
It should have been a time for rejoicing or at least relief. With General Robert E. Lee’s surrender a little less than a week earlier, the Civil War was practically at an end. President Abraham Lincoln decided to attend Ford’s Theater with his wife Mary and Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée Clara Harris on the evening of April 14th. General Ulysses S. Grant had declined an invitation to join the President that night. Much has been written about the events of that night, the other conspirators who attempted to assassinate Secretary of State William Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson, the success of John Wilkes Booth and his escape. Lincoln was mortally wounded, dying the next morning on April 15. Booth was killed trying to evade capture and many of the conspirators were hung including Mary Surratt. This was a terrible time for the United States for Abraham Lincoln was America’s great hope to heal the wounded nation. Many books have written about Lincoln, his life, the presidency, the assassination and aftermath. To help you chose the right one to begin your reading, contact us.
Charles Fritz noted Lewis & Clark painter, showed us another side to his artistic talent the other night. He spoke, of course about how he learned about the Voyage of Discovery and the preparation that went into his painting the 100 images that are on exhibit at the Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, spending time at the exact location during the same period of the year. Fritz also spoke about the Lewis & Clark expedition, the various members of the Corps, including Sacajawea, Charbonneau and York. He mentioned that a great source of information were the Journals written by Lewis and Clark and others on the expedition, edited by Gary Moulton. The SMOW has autographed copies of Charles Fritz’s book on his paintings, but if you want to learn more about Lewis and Clark, visit Guidon Books online or in the store.
Although it wasn’t officially the end of the Civil War, but on April 9, 1865, 150 years ago today General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant at the McLean home near Appomattox Court House. Lee was in his dress uniform while Grant wore his mud-spattered field coat and trousers. After a brief cordial moment, the two men spoke regarding the terms of surrender. In the end, Grant allowed the Southern officers and men to keep their horses and mules because they would be needed for a late spring planting. This helped the healing process between the two sides. Grant wanted all Confederate military equipment left, but it appears that Southern officers were allowed to keep their side arms. When Lee mentioned that his men had been without food for several days, Grant issued 25,000 rations for the Confederate troops. The next day, to avoid any future problems for the soldiers, Grant issued over 28,000 parole passes for the men. It seems that the war that caused such horrific pain and suffering was beginning to end with civility between the two armies. Not all Southern troops laid down their arms at this time and Confederate President Jefferson Davis fled Richmond and was later caught. But it was the beginning of the end. Many books have been written about these events. A classic is Burke Davis’s To Appomattox: Nine April Days, 1865” while Eyewitness to Appomattox compiled by Richard Wheeler provides first-hand accounts of that momentous event. Elizabeth Varon’s Appomattox: Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil War provides a new perspective on what happened.
Last night I had the opportunity to watch the new documentary film “Power’s War” by Cameron Trejo. It explores the extraordinary shoot-out and manhunt set in Arizona during 1918. Tom and John Power had refused to sign up for the military draft after America’s entry into World War I. The government called them slackers and eventually the law was sent to their cabin in the Galiuro Mountains of Graham County. In the pre-dawn hours of February 10, 1918, Sheriff Robert F. McBride and three other lawmen approached the Power’s cabin in the rugged canyon. What happened next depends on whose version of events you believe, but in the end, McBride, and deputies Martin Kempton and Kane Wooten were dead and Jeff Power, father of Tom and John was mortally wounded. The Power brothers and Tom Sisson, a friend who had also been inside the cabin, ran off. After a month long manhunt, the trio were eventually caught in Mexico. Historians Marshall Trimble, Heidi Oesselaer, Don Dedera, Eduardo Pagan, Mark Weitz and Barbara Wolfe provide commentary to the excellent film. There are other showings in Arizona as well as at the Arizona History Convention. Check out http://powerswar.com/ for additional information. There are also a few books available on the subject, including Thomas Cobb’s With Blood in Their Eyes and Tom Power’s own story, Shoot-out at Dawn: An Arizona Tragedy.
On April 6, 1862, approximately 100,000 soldiers fought at the battle of Shiloh. Nearly 20,000 men were killed or wounded with more Americans dying on that Tennessee battlefield than had died in all the nation’s previous wars combined. As with almost all battles, recriminations and what ifs abound. Why was General Lew Wallace (author of Ben-Hur and later governor of territorial New Mexico) taking so much time getting to the fight – General Ulysses S. Grant was livid with anger and never forgave Wallace. General Albert Sidney Johnston (the highest ranking officer killed in the war) was shot in the leg and bleed to death. If he had noticed, could the bleeding have been stopped? Was his death and later Stonewall Jackson’s shooting by friendly fire, one of the reasons for the Confederacy to lose the war? Is Shiloh the single most pivotal and defining battle in the Western theater during the Civil War? We have a selection of classic histories (Shiloh – in Hell before Night by James Lee McDonough) and newer studies (The Shiloh Campaign edited by Steven E. Woodworth) on this bloody battle available for the student of Civil War history or those just wanting to learn more about this great conflict.
Thousands of books have been written on battles, armies, and soldiers. A limited number of books have been penned on women and the home front – both North and South. With the sesquicentennial, several volumes have been published or reprinted on cities during the Civil War. Just released is Susan Lawrence’s Civil War Washington: History, Place, and Digital Scholarship, which discusses the nation’s capital during the war, but also using new technology to advance scholarship. The Civil War Lover’s Guide to New York City by Bill Morgan provides an illustrated guide to sites to see and places to visit. John W. Robinson work Los Angeles in Civil War Days 1860-1865 has been reprinted, allowing current scholars to learn more about that Southern California city. Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History, edited by Theodore Karamanski and Eileen McMahon, presents excerpts that document that city’s development and role in the war. Thomas O’Connor’s Civil War Boston: Home Front & Battlefield follows the experiences of the city and its residents. Similarly, George G. Kundahl’s Alexandria Goes to War: Beyond Robert E. Lee chronicles the lives of men and women who gave service to the Confederate cause. For these and other books, stop by the store or visit us online.
On this day in 1834, John Wesley Powell was born in New York. His family moved and farmed the land in Wisconsin and Illinois. Young Powell soon turned to teaching, which gave him the opportunity to improve his own education. He became interested in natural science and his work garnered him a reputation with the Illinois Natural History Society. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Powell enlisted and soon rose to the rank of major and commanded an artillery battery. He lost a portion of his arm at Shiloh yet that did not keep him from returning to the military. After the war, Powell with ten men traveled down the Green and Colorado rivers, becoming the first Anglos to explore the Grand Canyon. He later mapped the Colorado Plateau and developed ideas on the development of arid lands. He was named director of the U.S. Geological Survey and later the Bureau of American Ethnology. His writings on the exploration of the Colorado River are still widely read. Wallace Stegner captured Powell and his thoughts on the development of the American West in Beyond the Hundredth Meridian. Donald Worster penned a wonderful biography of Powell in A River Running West. Thousands of people have been able to go down the Colorado River each year. In 1999, I was fortunate to be with my family as we ran the river, looking at the same canyon walls as did Powell over a hundred years ago.
On Sunday, Gordon and I went down to Fort Bowie National Historic Site with John Langellier, noted Western military historian and very good friend. Fort Bowie is about two hours southeast of Tucson. Visitors have a choice to take a nice 1.5 mile walk to the post, or a shorter, more accessible trail from a closer parking lot for those who can’t take the hike. Since it was a beautiful day, we chose to walk the 1.5 mile trail. As luck would have it, just as we got out of our truck in the parking lot, a NPS volunteer guide, Rick Hensel, walked up to us announced he would be leading a tour to the fort’s ruins in about ten minutes. We decided to join Rick and the other visitors for the guided hike. It was a great experience – between Rick, who did a fabulous job, and John, we learned so much about Cochise, the Bascom Affair and the Battle of Apache Pass. I recommend talking a day and traveling down to Fort Bowie – but do it before Arizona gets much hotter. If you want to read more about Cochise or the troubles with the Apache, I suggest picking up one of Ed Sweeney’s books. John Langellier also has written a good book on the Southern Arizona military posts which contain plenty of images.
On Tuesday evening, Anne E. Marshall, professor of history at Mississippi State University, spoke to the Scottsdale Civil War Round Table about Civil War and remembrance. Dr. Marshall, author of Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State, talked about how Kentucky, which remained in the Union during the war, appeared to embrace a Confederate identify after 1865. We have a limited number of copies signed by Dr. Marshall. Other books, such as Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation and Burying the Dead but not the Past: Ladies’ Memorial Associations & the Lost Cause, both by Caroline E. Janney, discuss how Union and Confederate veterans, as well as Southern ladies, remembered the war. Noted historians Gary Gallagher and William C. Davis have written and collected essays on the myths and realities of the Lost Cause and how Southerners viewed the Civil War. For these and other books, please stop by the store or check out they selection of Civil War books on our website